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Turns out Magic Assistance Aren’t So Magical

When I first got into productivity I wasn’t that into the idea of outsourcing. I didn’t like the idea of giving up control over my work. However, once I gave in and tried it, I fell in love with outsourcing. So much so that I have written several posts about it, it’s one of my top productivity tips.

That being said, I recently had an experience that left me questioning my outsourcing beliefs. I have used several websites that outsource your to-do list like Fancy Hands, TaskRabbit, Zirtual & many more. My experience has always been generally positive. So when I heard of a new, similar company called Magic I thought I would give them a try.

The idea behind Magic is that you can use a virtual assistant to organize any task or issue you might have. All you pay is 53 cents per minute the assistant spends on the job. Seems simple enough, right?

As I’ve written about in my previous post I hosted my own Lights Camera Expert Live workshop recently and I decided to use Magic to help me organize the catering. Being the producer that I am, I had pretty much sorted everything myself already, I had downloaded the menus and decided what I wanted, at what time and for how many people. All they needed to do was put in the orders.

Magic assistants keep you up to date on their progress with your tasks, which is good. But in this case that didn’t really help very much. There seemed to be a bit of back and forth with one of the restaurants as the assistant had difficulty getting in touch with the person in charge. It happens, I get it. But what I didn’t understand was how they had managed to spend so much time on this job. Magic is not supposed to charge you for the time they spend waiting for someone to call them back, only the time they spend on the call.

So I was pretty shocked to find that they had racked up over 2 hours on this task, without any sort of conclusion in sight. When I asked for the time breakdown I discovered they had spent 40 minutes researching the websites of the restaurants I had picked. But why? I had already chosen from the menus and provided them with contact numbers so I still can’t figure out what exactly they were looking for on the websites.

Not wanting to be too pushy I decided to let this slide, hoping they would manage to sort it all soon. By the next day they had managed to rack up 4 and a half hours worth of time on this task, when they still hadn’t even booked anything. Completely fed up, I requested they end the job and decided to sort it myself. They did issue me a full refund after I complained but I still had the task to complete.

In the end I got someone else to  book the catering and it took her all of about half an hour, which is about the amount of time I would’ve spent on it too. It left me wondering whether I really needed to outsource the task at all. But I just didn’t want to do it! I still can’t figure out why it would have taken the Magic assistant four hours though.

Either way it taught me a valuable lesson, sometimes it is just better (and quicker) to do it yourself!

Have you had any outsourcing mishaps?

Listful Thinking Translated Into French

When I first started this blog I never imagined that I’d reach list makers all over the world. When I wrote my book, Listful Thinking it happened! It’s so great to see how list making translates into every language. And it’s happened again – Listful Thinking is now coming out in French! Or “La Magie Des Lists” as they call it.

Given my huge obsession with Paris it only seems right that my book will finally have its place there. Listful Thinking is also available in Dutch, Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese, Indonesian, Arabic, Korean and Japanese.

If you are a new French reader just joining us, Bonjour! I hope you find the magic in list making too.

How to Organize a Successful Workshop

I’m super pumped this week, because my friend and partner in crime Terri Trespicio and I recently hosted our first live event! It wasn’t hosted by an organization or a conference – it was hosted by us – it was our baby!

Many of you know I created an online course called Lights Camera Expert after being asked “How do I get on TV?” so many times by experts who were sick of seeing everyone else in their field snatch up the airtime.

So we took them behind the scenes of what it’s like to work at a TV show or magazine, how to get a producer or editor’s attention and continue to get asked back.  And we pushed the video course out into the world about a year ago.

What happened next is not something we expected. Read more

Start UnBatching Your Tasks

Every three months I do an accountability call with the students  from my Listful Thinking Masterclass. We discuss the ways they’ve implemented the course into their day to day lives, and we also talk about their latest ventures in productivity.

Recently, one of my students explained how, after being inspired by a LinkedIn article, he has started avoiding social media on Tuesday. Why Tuesdays? He just picked it and now Tuesdays  are his most productive day.

I really like this idea. I often promote the idea of batching tasks together. So the same way you wouldn’t do laundry one sock at a time you shouldn’t pay bills for instance one by one. Instead batching them together weekly is a much more effective use of your time! But I think the same principle can be applied to ‘unbatching’. Putting together tasks that you’re not going to do! Read more

When Too Much Productivity is Bad

When it comes to productivity, I believe it’s important to find what works for you. There is no ultimate one size fits all solution. In fact just because something works for you, doesn’t mean it works all the time. What  you find helpful at work, might be too involved or overly complex for your family at home.

Everything in moderation, as the Greeks would say.

There are many examples I can think of where a good productivity practice can be pushed too far and become unhelpful.

Being too early – This sounds a like a good thing, but this is an absolute pet peeve of mine. In fact it’s gets a special mention in my course Lights Camera Expert, because I know how much producers dislike it when guests are early. There’s nothing wrong with being 5 minutes early to give yourself some time to settle, but I’ve had interviewees show up  over a hour early for a segment. As a producer we have our day factored in down to the minute so when someone shows up early it throws my whole schedule off. I know early arrivers will often say they are happy to wait, but it still creates a frantic energy and makes me feel like I’m trying to play catch up and then have to figure out what to do with you for all that time!   Read more